Lorenzo Nera graduated in 2016 with an ambitious film which is just now entering the festival circuit. He’s the perfect example, though, of how maintaining your network, working with fellow grads and diversifying your skills can be a path, not only to festival recognition but also to building a sustainable career post-film school. He talked to us about taking your time, using what you know, and how it feels to be one of this year’s Berlinale Talents.
Sophie McVeigh: Can you tell me a bit about your background before coming to London Film School?
Lorenzo Nera: I grew up in an Italian/Argentinian family in Rome, loving film forever. When I moved to London in September 2014 to start my Filmmaking MA at London Film School, I had just finished a BA in Film Studies and was trying to gain some filmmaking experience by making a few shorts, taking part in shoots and learning editing software in my free time. Apart from receiving a good theoretical education and doing what I could to put it into practice with the support of my family and friends in Italy, I couldn't find a lot of ways to access the world of cinema back then, so when I got a very lucky chance to be able to move to London, I did it.
S.M: You graduated in 2016 – what was the film you graduated with?
L.N: My grad film ‘Come Down’ is a sci-fi, proof of concept short film about a futuristic city endlessly consumed by rave music and drugs, where silence is the only forbidden experience. I shot it in East London with a core crew mainly composed of LFS coursemates (Cait Lyn Adamson produced it, Sebastián Lojo and Vincenzo Marranghino were on lights and camera, Chelsea Gallagher worked on the production design), and spent almost two years after that completing the film's VFX-heavy post-production in between jobs and other projects, with Terence Chim helping me out on the edit. The film is only just completed and starting its festival run now, fingers crossed!
S.M: You’ve just been selected for Berlinale Talents - what did the selection process involve and how did it feel to be chosen?
L.N: I had known about Berlinale Talents for a while and last year I was lucky enough to cut a feature film, ‘Siyabonga’, directed by fellow LFS student Joshua Magor, which was selected in the official competition of Locarno 71. Having taken part in a feature-length project which screened in a major international festival was one of the prerequisites to apply for Talents, so I gave it a try and filled in the application (which included writing some responses to questions about influences, points of view and methods of work, and uploading some video material together with info about the applicant). When I received the e-mail letting me know I was selected, it obviously felt like very nice news! I was immediately excited about the perspective of being at the festival to meet more filmmakers, going to the masterclasses and all that. I think what I'm particularly looking forward to now is the Editing Studio, a series of workshops where we participant editors will be doing some hands-on activity on various projects and discussing it with noted editors selected by Berlinale.
S.M: What else have you been up to since graduating?
L.N: Aside from finishing ‘Come Down’, what kept me busy during the months right after graduation was building up a bit of solid experience and a network to work as a freelancer in post-production. This is not a cheap city to live in, but the film and video industries here are so vast and diverse that finding things I could do, for which people were happy to pay me, wasn't too hard, and by the time one year had passed since my graduation I was able to live in a pretty consistent working routine (the only way to go if you're trying to both pay London rent and save something up for personal projects!) Thanks mainly to the software experience I'd gathered by fooling around on my computer during my spare time in the university years, I started getting hired for editing, VFX and motion design jobs and since then I have worked on a bit of everything that I came across from film to TV, corporate video and web content, waiting to be able to develop some concepts into new film projects.
S.M: What was the most important thing you gained from experience at London Film School?
L.N: I believe that the most enriching and useful aspect of one's time at LFS is the opportunity to make contact with a wide and diverse range of people from all over the world who want to make films, each with their own, various ideas about what that means ethically and what that entails practically: being in such a mixed environment alone fuels an energy that in my case was very important - both in developing my own views and in finding peers to build professional working relationships with, as well as good friendships.
S.M: What advice would you give to students who are just about to graduate?
L.N: The only suggestion I feel like l can give to people who are about to graduate is not to rush unless really necessary, and to allow graduation films to be completed in all the time they deserve. I might have gone too far in the other extreme with the length of my grad's post-production (I actually found that dragging one single project on for years can also be counterproductive in many ways), but I have often seen students being too impatient to finish the films they're directing - for reasons of festivals scheduling or just being eager to be done with them as quickly as possible: that's a dangerous approach when it comes to the making of a grad film, which is a pretty unique opportunity. And most importantly, I believe that rushing risks significantly reducing the possibility of making something original and audiovisually thoughtful... To me, part of the enjoyment of being the audience of any kind of creative work comes from the feeling of experiencing something that's been crafted carefully and with extreme dedication, and those things can only happen when there's enough time to work and explore things in detail!
Find out more about ‘Come Down’ atand ‘Siyabonga’ at
Applications for next year’s Berlinale Talents open in July 2019